How To Prepare For The Fourth Quarter

How To Prepare For The Fourth Quarter

With Arkansas Razorbacks football season finally here, many of us will be blocking out time in our Saturdays for the next few months to watch the games.

It’s been a long summer of anticipation to see how the Hogs are going to perform this year, especially after losing several key players from last season to the NFL draft. Many of us have been keeping up with the practice schedules, new recruits and the Red/White scrimmage with expectation of a good season and we are encouraged by the early victories.

If there’s one thing noticeable about the Razorbacks over the last several years, it’s that their mental game is just as tough to keep in shape as the physical game. They spend all that time practicing, running drills and going through two-a-days, but when it’s the fourth quarter and they're down by 10 points, the pressure is on.

For many people, this is the same concept as where they are in their retirement preparation game: fourth quarter, pressure is on, down by 10 points, and the decisions you make will decide whether you go home celebrating or with your head down.

We see this scenario all too often. People often do not realize how critical saving for retirement is until it’s the fourth quarter. This is not something we are taught in school, nor is it something that has always been a problem. If you think back a few generations, most people who “retired” from the company in which they worked were provided a pension plan into which they weren't responsible to make deposits. In that generation, retirement had a totally different connotation than it does today. It was an age. Today, retirement is not defined by how old you are, or how long you’ve worked. Retirement is achieved by how many dollars you have saved. Oh and by the way, saving those dollars is YOUR responsibility.

Just like in football, whenever we find ourselves in this situation we need to go back to our training and rely on the fundamentals we’ve been practicing. So here are three basic fundamentals you can refer to if you find yourself in the fourth quarter of your working years and you feel the pressure of retirement.

  1. Blocking and tackling — Think of this as the financial equivalent of budgeting and saving. These are the two main ingredients of a healthy financial picture. If we don’t block ourselves from some of the impulse purchases we make and tackle the savings goal we set for ourselves, then the rest of our financial picture will not have a firm foundation on which to stand.
  2. Keep your eyes on the ball — You have to begin with the end in mind. If you keep your mind focused on goals ahead of you, then it becomes much easier to make that extra IRA contribution and maybe not buy a boat this year.
  3. Listen to your coach — Even the star player is nothing without the coach helping everyone to work together. It’s critical that you have a coach to help you set your goals, develop a plan for success, and to encourage you along the way.

Whether you’re at halftime or in the fourth quarter, the victory is yours for the taking. What will you do to take the lead?